Bathroom Light Went Poof after installation

marial1214February 24, 2013

Hi, I came over from the gardening forum. We are updating our house slowly through the years. Right now, we are doing the master bath.

My husband took down the 2 racetrack lights (1980's makeup lights) on either side of bathroom mirror and put updated ones up. He read the instructions, then proceeded. My husband has an MBA, he is an intelligent person but this is the first electric job he has done, we usually pay out of our teeth to get work like this done.

He shut down the breakers and put the base onto wall then twined the wires and put the plastic caps on. Then put on face plate and I screwed in the bulbs, 4 60 watt bulbs, the max the fixture can take, as indicated on box,

The left one went up, then the right one. We fired up the breaker and we had light. My husband was so proud of himself for 10 minutes then POOF, we turned around to look where the poof noise came from and the right lighting fixture had shut off. The left one was still lit. The breaker was NOT thrown, he went and shut down the breaker manually and took off the face plate to look inside at wires and sure enough 1 was burnt and copper was melted onto the plastic nut and oh god.

What did he do wrong? Can someone tell us what he might have done wrong and what do we do differently tomorrow to try to get it back up?

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There are several possibilities.
Connection was loose, came apart and shorted to ground.
Too much bare wire and it was exposed out of the nut. Wire flexed and shorted to ground.
Wire caught on sharp metal edge and cut through insulation.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2013 at 7:05PM
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are EMS and the Fire Dept. going to be there tomorrow?

maybe paying out of your teeth isn't such a bad idea after all.

does he also do plastic surgery?

    Bookmark   February 24, 2013 at 7:15PM
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Bare wire ends in the "plastic nut" were not secured to each other tightly enough and when the power came on they started to heat up, which loosened them more, which caused them to arc, which caused them to get hot and develop resistance, and get hotter and start melting the plastic nut, until electricity couldn't flow.

This can often happen because fixtures are often supplied with plastic nuts of the wrong (larger than required) size for the job.
So it is hopefully just a case of trimming back the bit of melted wiring and insulation and repeating the attempt with a new wire nut. Make sure you twist each multistrand wire in the correct direction individually so it is tight and then twist the two wires together so they stay tight while you screw down the wire nut.
Good luck !

Here is a link that might be useful: Youtube wire nut splices

    Bookmark   February 24, 2013 at 8:21PM
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Thanks so far for all your kindness. Would it be helpful to upload a photo of the wires, as we found them after something heated up in there? Pls let me know. we are reading all advice.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2013 at 8:36PM
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A picture is worth a thousand words.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2013 at 4:41PM
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It's a little late for pics. We got the fixture back up and put face plate on, it's been working all day without any explosions so perhaps,this time it is Correctly twined and we used different wire nuts, as post above indicated. Thx again.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2013 at 6:20PM
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I don't think it's late at all. Just becasue it works does not mean it's right.

Just out of curiosity, what field is your husband in?

    Bookmark   February 25, 2013 at 10:03PM
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